Gilich: Seawall idea gets warm reception from Corps

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said he was encouraged about ideas to keep sand on the sand beach and off U.S. 90 after a meeting Friday afternoon with representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Gilich is pitching an idea that would have a pre-fabricated concrete L-shaped structure placed in continuous 10-foot sections along the steps of the seawall. The idea, he says, would create a barrier to keep sand from blowing over the seawall and also create a 10-foot wide boardwalk along the beachfront.

Attending the City Hall meeting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District office were Susan Rees, Coastal Resiliency Program Manager, and Justin McDonald, Senior Engineering Technical Lead for Civil Works. Myrtis Franke, an aide to Sen. Thad Cochran, also attended, along with Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard.

“I learned a number of things from the meeting, and I was happy to hear that they say we are on the right track,” Gilich said. “Now what they want to see is some structural engineering analysis of the idea.”

The mayor is proposing to test his idea in the east beach stretch of seawall between the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and the Kuhn Street boat ramp. Biloxi’s 8.2-mile stretch of waterfront already has 14,000 linear feet of beachside boardwalk in place, which was installed by Harrison County post-Katrina. Gilich said about 17,000 linear feet of boardwalk would complete the areas of the Biloxi beachfront.

The city has spent a half million dollars each of the past three years in removing sand from U.S. 90.

“Among the things I learned is that the Corps of Engineers says we can’t lower the profile of the sand beach, which is something people have suggested,” the mayor declared. “People remember when we had nine steps. Now we only have two steps and the rest are covered by sand.

“The Corps is adamant that the sand protects the seawall and the seawall protects the highway.”

Gilich said the idea of placing the 10-foot sections of pre-fabricated concrete sections that would extend from the seawall would cost about $310 a foot, while the previous boardwalk, poured in place years ago, cost about $362 a foot. Installing the pre-fabricated sections could go quicker, he added.

“All along this has been about keeping the sand on the beach and off the highway,” Gilich said, “but now we have a chance to do it in a way that will create a boardwalk, so more people can experience our beautiful waterfront in a healthy manner.”
Photo gallery: Sand beach ideas and the meeting 


News and notes

Fishing for catfish: Nearly 100 youngsters showed up to fish for catfish and prizes on Saturday for the Park & Recreation Department’s annual Fishing for Catfish Kids Day at the Hiller Park pond. To see images from the event, click here

Da plane, da plane: It created a few anxious moments Friday afternoon when the city’s emergency dispatchers received calls that a plane had crashed in the waters between Deer Island and east beach in Biloxi. Alas, when Biloxi first responders arrived moments later they found a small seaplane had landed safely as passengers were enroute to dine at a waterfront restaurant. To see photos, which have been viewed by nearly 60,000 Facebook users at this writing, click here.

The week that was: Last week, the Fire Department answered 146 calls for service including 86 for medical emergencies and one fire; the Police Department handled 2,205 calls for service; the Community Development Department issued 63 building permits with a construction valuation of more than $1.7 million; and the Engineering Department continued to progress on projects throughout the city.  To see the complete reports, click here.

Lifeguards needed: The Biloxi Parks & Recreation Department is looking for part-time lifeguards. Individuals must be at least 16 years of age and have current certification in First-Aid, CPR, and AED, along with and lifeguard training from the American Red Cross or YMCA. For more information, click here.

Bike Biloxi:  The Biloxi Main Street’s monthly bike ride is looking to have a spooktacular time on Tuesday.  This month’s theme is Halloween and all riders are asked to wear a Halloween jersey or a bicycle-friendly costume. The group’s casual ride begins and ends at the Biloxi Visitors Center, 1050 Beach Blvd. Details: 228-435-6339